Red Sox’ Alex Cora on Kyle Schwarber as slugger nears return from injury: ‘Don’t bet against him’

After an encouraging workout at Fenway Park on Wednesday, first baseman/outfielder Kyle Schwarber appears to be on the verge of beginning a rehab assignment, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Schwarber, who the Sox acquired from the Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez in late July, has been on the injured list because of a right hamstring strain since July 3.

This past weekend in Toronto, the 28-year-old slugger suffered a minor setback in his recovery on account of some left groin tightness, but it was one that did not throw off his timetable by that much, if at all.

Because of that, Schwarber could very well start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Thursday. Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, he is eve expected to be in the WooSox’ starting lineup for their matchup against the Syracuse Mets at Polar Park.

That being said, it is unclear at the moment how long Schwarber’s rehab assignment with the WooSox will last. As noted by Cotillo, the left-handed power hitter has been held out of action since July 2 and is also learning to play first base — a relatively new position for him — on the fly.

“If it’s up to him, he’ll probably say hi to the guys and come back and perform,” Cora told reporters Wednesday (including Cotillo). “I think we’ve done everything possible to get him to a spot that, offensively, he feels right. Indoor, outdoor, with everything. Velocity, spin, everything.”

At the time he sustained that right hamstring strain last month, Schwarber was in the midst of a career year for the Nationals and was named to his first career All-Star team as a result.

Over 72 games with Washington, the 6-foot, 229 pounder slashed .253/.340/.570 to go along with nine doubles, 25 home runs, 53 RBI, and 42 runs scored across 303 trips to the plate, primarily as a left fielder.

In the month of June alone, Schwarber went on an absolute tear in regards to hitting the ball out of the ballpark, as he clubbed 16 of his 25 homers — 12 of which came in a 10-game span from June 19 through June 29.

On top of the production he can provide from the left side of the plate, Schwarber is no stranger to adversity, either.

Going back to the 2016 season, the former Cubs fan favorite tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in early April, but returned just in time for that October’s World Series, where he posted a .971 OPS en route to Chicago’s historic triumph over the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

This feat is something Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has alluded to in the time since Boston acquired Schwarber, and it’s also something Cora pointed to on Wednesday.

“You guys saw what happened when they won the World Series (in 2016),” Cora said. “How quick he came back and how good he was when he did what he did when the Cubs won the World Series. Don’t bet against him. He feels great, he moves well and we’ll go from there.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Breaking down trade deadline moves with Pitcher List’s Sarah Griffin

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Pitcher List writer Sarah Griffin.

Among the topics Sarah and I discussed were the moves the Red Sox made ahead of last week’s trade deadline, how the team is in the midst of a season-worst four-game losing streak, the role Kyle Schwarber may play once he returns from the injured list, why Tanner Houck was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, how Chris Sale could fare in his first major-league action in two years, what other clubs — such as the Brewers and Dodgers — did to bolster their rosters at the deadline, how the final two months of the 2021 regular season will play out, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Sarah for taking some time out of her Tuesday to have this conversation with me. You can follow Sarah on Twitter by clicking here and read her work for Pitcher List by clicking here. Also, check out her new podcast — Saturdays n Seltzers — by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Martín Pérez gives up 3 homers as Red Sox fall to Rays, 7-3, in first game after trade deadline

Hours after seeing the trade deadline come and go without acquiring a starting pitcher, the Red Sox were rocked by the Rays by a final score of 7-3 at Tropicana Field on Friday night.

Martin Perez, making his 21st start of the season for the Sox, was shelled for six runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts over four innings of work.

The one walk proved to be what did Perez in out of the gate, as he issued a two-out free pass to Austin Meadows before serving up a two-run home run to Yandy Diaz in the first inning, giving Tampa Bay an early 2-0 lead.

More two-out trouble arose for Perez in the bottom half of the third, with the veteran left-hander nearly maneuvering his way around a one-out single to Nelson Cruz, but instead gave up a two-out base hit to Diaz, which was followed by a two-run double off the bat of rookie phenom Wander Franco.

The Boston bats, matched up against Rays starter Josh Fleming, battled back in the fourth, as Xander Bogaerts led things off with a groundball single and came into score his side’s first run of the night following a Hunter Renfroe walk and Christian Vazquez RBI single.

Vazquez, however, was thrown out as second base as he attempted to extend his single into a double, though Bobby Dalbec was able to drive in Renfroe to cut the Sox’ deficit in half at 4-2.

Despite cutting into the Rays’ lead, Perez fell victim to the long ball once more in the bottom of the fourth, as he served up a pair of solo homers to Mike Zunino and Randy Arozarena before recording the final out of the inning in what had become a 6-2 game.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (45 strikes), the 30-year-old southpaw was ultimately hit with his seventh loss of the year while seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 4.56.

Another run-scoring double courtesy of Renfroe off Fleming pulled Boston back to within three runs in their half of the fifth, but Red Sox reliever Yacksel Rios gave that run right back by giving up a one-out triple to Franco that was followed by a wild pitch that allowed Franco to easily score and make it a 7-3 contest in favor of Tampa Bay.

From there, Rios tossed a scoreless sixth inning, Hirokazu Sawamura stranded a pair of runners in the seventh in his return from the injured list, and Josh Taylor twirled a shutout bottom of the eighth to hold the Rays at seven runs.

That said, the Sox offense was not able to get anything going against the Rays bullpen, and 7-3 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

With the loss, their second straight, the Red Sox fall to 63-42 on the season while their lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East decreased to just 1/2 a game.

Some additional notes from Friday night:

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Yarbrough

The Red Sox will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi as they look to halt their two-game losing streak in the middle game of this pivotal three-game weekend series.

The Rays will counter with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who has allowed 14 runs (11 earned) over seven innings of work spanning two outings (one start) against the Sox this season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire left-handed reliever Austin Davis from Pirates in exchange for Michael Chavis

The Red Sox have acquired left-handed reliever Austin Davis from the Pirates in exchange for infielder/outfielder Michael Chavis, the club announced Friday afternoon.

Davis, 28, posted a 5.59 ERA and 4.59 xFIP to go along with 11 strikeouts and five walks over 10 relief appearances spanning 9 2/3 innings of work across three big-league stints with the Pirates this season.

The 6-foot-4 lefty began the 2021 campaign on the 60-day injured list after suffering a left elbow sprain during the offseason that prevented him from appearing in any spring training games.

Originally selected by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2014 amateur draft out of California State University, Davis — a California native — began his major-league career with Philadelphia in 2018 before being designated for assignment and getting dealt to Pittsburgh last August.

Per Baseball Savant, Davis operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup, though he only threw one pitch this season while with the Pirates.

In addition to providing the Red Sox with another left-handed option out of the bullpen, Davis also comes with multiple years of control, as he does not become eligible for salary arbitration until 2023 and could remain with the club through 2025 before hitting free agency.

On top of that, Davis does have one minor-league option remaining, though it appears he will be added to the Sox’ active roster out of the gate.

Chavis, meanwhile, sees his tenure with the Red Sox come to a rather disappointing close after being selected by the club in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft.

Once regarded as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system, Chavis made his major-league debut for the Sox in April 2019 and made his impact felt right away by clubbing 18 home runs and collecting 58 RBI through his first 95 games as a big-leaguer.

Since then, however, it has been somewhat of a struggle for the soon-to-be 26-year-old right-handed hitter. This season alone, he has hit just .190/.207/.342 with all of two homers and six RBI over 31 games (82 plate appearances) while being shuttled back-and-forth between Boston and Triple-A Worcester.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, perhaps a change of scenery is best for Chavis, as he should run into more playing time with former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington — who was with the club when Chavis was drafted in 2014 — running the show in Pittsburgh.

(Picture of Austin Davis: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire veteran reliever Hansel Robles from Twins in exchange for pitching prospect Alex Scherff

The Red Sox have acquired veteran reliever Hansel Robles and cash considerations from the Twins in exchange for pitching prospect Alex Scherff, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Robles, who turns 31 on August 13, posted a 4.91 ERA and 4.82 FIP to go along with 43 strikeouts and 24 walks over 45 relief appearances spanning 44 innings of work for Minnesota this season.

The right-hander, formerly of the Mets and Angels, signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Twins back in December and has converted 10 of a possible 12 save opportunities so far this year, though he has struggled to the tune of a 9.64 ERA in 10 outings (9 1/3 innings) in the month of July alone.

Per Baseball Savant, Robles operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, changeup, slider, and sinker. He has averaged 96.7 mph with his four-seamder — his go-to pitch — in 2021, which ranks in the 91st percentile among all major-leaguers.

Since he is on a one-year deal, Robles is essentially a rental since he can become a free agent at the end of the season. In the meantime, the Dominican-born righty will join a Boston bullpen mix that includes the likes of Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, Yacksel Rios, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Austin Davis (more on him later).

Scherff, meanwhile, becomes the second intriguing pitching prospect the Red Sox have had to part ways with along with Aldo Ramirez — who was sent to the Nationals in exchange for All-Star outfielder Kyle Schwarber late Thursday night.

Originally selected by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Colleyville Heritage High School (Colleyville, Texas), the 23-year-old began his pro career as a starter but has since been converted into a reliever.

After opening the 2021 campaign with High-A Greenville and posting a 2.78 ERA and 2.73 FIP over 17 appearances and 22 2/3 innings, Scherff earned a promotion to Double-A Portland on July 6.

In six outings spanning 6 2/3 innings pitched with the Sea Dogs, the young right-hander allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts.

At the time he was traded, Scherff was regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 53 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is also eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter, so the Red Sox create some more roster flexibility in dealing him away since they were unlikely to protect him, or in other words, add him to their 40-man roster by November 20.

(Picture of Hansel Robles: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire Kyle Schwarber from Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez

The Red Sox have acquired left fielder Kyle Schwarber from the Washington Nationals, in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez the club announced Thursday night.

In order create room on their 40-man roster for the addition of Schwarber, the Red Sox designated reliever Brandon Workman for assignment.

Schwarber, 28, has been on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain since July 3 after suffering the injury while rounding first base in a game against the Dodgers on July 2.

Prior to being placed on the IL, the left-handed hitter was in the midst of perhaps his best season in the big-leagues after earning his first All-Star team selection earlier this month.

Over 72 games with the Nationals to begin the 2021 campaign, Schwarber slashed a solid .253/.340/.570 (138 wRC+) to go along with nine doubles, 25 home runs, 53 RBI, 42 runs scored, one stolen base, 31 walks, and 88 strikeouts in 303 total trips to the plate. He hit 16 homers in 27 games in the month of June alone.

A former first-round pick of the Cubs back in 2014 out of Indiana University, the Ohio native spent the first seven years of his professional career and six years of his major-league career with Chicago before hitting free agency and signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the Nats back in Janurary.

Known for his slugging abilities (146 career homers), Schwarber — listed at a stout 6-foot-2 and 229 pounds — will look to provide a Red Sox offense that has stumbled a bit since the All-Star break with a power-hitting boost from the left side of the plate.

Drafted as a catcher out of Indiana, Schwarber has not appeared in a game behind the plate since 2019, and he only did that one time. Over the last two seasons between Chicago and Washington, all of his playing time has come at either left field or designated hitter.

That said, it seems as though the Red Sox could try Schwarber out at first base — a position he played one time in 2017 — if the occasion arises.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, “the Red Sox are open to see how he can handle the position. He’s also expected to see playing time in the outfield and at designated hitter.”

Ramirez, meanwhile, goes to the Nationals in return for Schwarber.

Originally acquired by the Red Sox from Aguascalientes of the Mexican League for $550,000 in April 2018, Ramirez was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 25 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 11th among pitchers in the organization.

The 20-year-old right-hander opened the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem and posted a 2.03 ERA and 3.04 FIP to go along with 32 strikeouts and eight walks over eight starts spanning 31 innings of work, though he has not pitched in a game in well over a month after being placed on the injured list due to elbow tendinitis on June 27.

For the Red Sox, parting ways with a prospect of Ramirez’s caliber for an injured player such as Schwarber certainly comes with its risks.

With that being said, however, Schwarber — who is owed approximately $2.33 million for the remainder of this season and has an $11.5 million mutual option (or $3 million buyout) for 2022 — does come with a potential extra year of team control.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Schwarber is expected to return from his hamstring strain within the next few weeks.

Cotillo also notes that the Red Sox will place Schwarber on the 10-day injured list ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Rays and likely activate reliever Hirokazu Sawamura in his place.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Will Newton/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Previewing the trade deadline with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox beat writer Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com.

Chris, who becomes the first recurring guest in Podding the Red Sox history, previews what the Red Sox could do before Friday afternoon’s trade deadline.

We also discussed the possibility of the Red Sox trading for Max Scherzer, Anthony Rizzo, and Craig Kimbrel, how Chaim Bloom weighs the club’s long-term goals with its short-term ones when it comes to making trades, what the trade deadline could mean for the likes of Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis — among others, what would happen if the Red Sox failed to sign second-round pick Jud Fabian, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Chris for taking some time out of his busy late July schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here, and you can check out his work for MassLive by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox Trade Mitch Moreland To Padres in Exchange for Prospects Hudson Potts, Jeisson Rosario

The Red Sox have traded first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres in exchange for infield prospect Hudson Potts and outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario, the club officially announced Sunday.

Moreland, who just reached 10 years of major-league service time on Saturday, is currently slashing .328/.430/.746 with eight home runs and 21 RBI through his first 22 games of the 2020 season.

The soon-to-be 35-year-old signed a one-year deal with Boston back in January and his contract includes a $3 million club option for 2021.

With San Diego, Moreland will presumably see time at first base and DH, although he likely will not be playing everyday or close to everyday like he was doing with the Sox.

As for who the Red Sox got back in this deal, let’s start with Potts.

The 21-year-old third baseman was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 16 prospect in the Padres’ farm system.

A former first-round selection of San Diego in 2016, Potts most recently posted a .227/.290/.406 slash line to go along with 16 homers and 59 RBI over 107 games with Double-A Amarillo in 2019.

Rosario, meanwhile, was signed by the Padres as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in 2016.

In 120 games for High-A Lake Elsinore last season, the 20-year-old outfielder drew 87 walks, posted a .686 OPS, and swiped 11 bags while working his way to become San Diego’s 19th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

In acquiring both Potts and Rosario, the Red Sox appear to have added two quality prospects to their ranks. And one of the two will likely be added to the club’s 60-man player pool seeing how infielder Marco Hernandez was also released on Sunday.

Red Sox Trade Rumors: Astros Have Inquired About Matt Barnes, Rays Have Interest in Christian Vazquez as Monday’s Deadline Looms

The 2020 Major League Baseball season has reached its final weekend leading up until the August 31 trade deadline. With that, a few key contributors on the Red Sox popped up in trade rumors on Friday.

According to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli, the Astros have “inquired” on right-hander Matt Barnes, while the Rays “have interest” in catcher Christian Vazquez “with early discussions centering around Tampa’s pitching prospects.”

Barnes and Vazquez, who are both 30 years old, are under club control through the end of the 2021 season, with Vazquez having a $7 million team option for 2022.

Coming into Friday with the second-worst record in the American League at 10-21, the Sox seem primed to be sellers between now and Monday afternoon. They made that much apparent last week by dealing both Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the Phillies.

Barnes, who is good friends with both Hembree and Workman, could be the next Boston reliever to get moved.

Through his first 12 appearances of the year, the UCONN product has struggled thus far, posting a 6.00 ERA and 6.65 FIP over 12 innings of work. Still, Barnes was among the nastiest relievers in the American League in 2019, and a pitching-savvy club such as the Astros, led by renowned pitching coach Brent Strom, may be able to unlock something in the fireballer.

Vazquez, meanwhile, has a case to be made that he is more valuable to the Red Sox than Barnes is seeing how he anchors an ever-changing pitching staff.

Coming off a career year last season, the Puerto Rico native entered the weekend owning a .260/.295/.430 slash line to go along with four home runs and 12 RBI through 28 games and 105 plate appearances.

Just recently, Vazquez expressed his desire to end his career with the Red Sox, the organization he was originally drafted by 12 years ago.

“I think it’s going to be sad if I left Boston because all my career we’re here,” he said this past Tuesday. “From (2008), a young kid, I’ve been here. Only one organization. And my goal is retire here. That’s my goal in my career. Be part of one organization, have one jersey on my chest all my career. But we don’t control that.”

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who used to work for the Rays, were to entertain trading Vazquez to Tampa Bay, who have the top farm system in baseball according to Baseball America, not only could the Sox possibly get a quality pitching prospect back, but they could also open the door to sign free agent-to-be J.T. Realmuto this winter if the Phillies don’t re-sign the All-Star backstop first.

That is just a distinct possibility, however, and Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy even classified Vazquez as someone “we want in Boston” when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron on Wednesday.

With less than 72 hours to go until the trade deadline, Bloom and Co. are certainly on the clock. Even with all that has transpired over the past few days, it would be quite surprising to see the Red Sox not make any additional moves by Monday.

Red Sox Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘Should Be on Move’ Before Trade Deadline Passes, per Report

The Red Sox could trade Jackie Bradley Jr. before next week’s trading deadline, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Per Nightengale, the Sox “have let everyone know that there are no untouchables, meaning that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. should be on the move, but unlikely shortstop Xander Bogaerts.”

Bradley Jr., 30, is one of two Red Sox outfielders who will become free agents at the end of the season, with the other being Kevin Pillar.

After a hot start to 2020, Bradley Jr. has come back to earth and is currently slashing .235/.300/.358 to go along with two home runs and eight RBI through his first 25 games of the year. Both of those homers came in Baltimore this past weekend.

In terms of where he stands defensively, the 2018 Gold Glover ranks 10th in UZR/150 (-15) and 10th in Defense among qualified American League center fielders so far this season, per FanGraphs.

On a one-year deal that was originally worth $11 million but was brought down $4.074 million due to the shortened season, Bradley Jr. would only cost approximately $1.63 million for the month of September.

That being said, Bradley Jr. could prove to be a valuable addition for a contending club looking to shore up it’s outfield defense, especially if the former Gamecock were to get hot at the plate once more to close out the 2020 campaign.

Even if Bradley Jr. were to be productive for his new organization in this scenario, he likely would not fetch too hefty of a return considering the fact he would only be under team control for less than a full month not counting the postseason.

Over the weekend, the Red Sox were presumably able to get more in their trade with the Phillies by dealing Brandon Workman, who will become a free agent this winter, AND Heath Hembree, who is under club control through 2021, as well as cash considerations, in exchange for right-hander Nick Pivetta and right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom were to attempt to move Bradley Jr. and/or Pillar within the next week, would it be out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox to attach a controllable player or a considerable dollar amount to sweeten the deal and garner a more significant return?

In other words, could the Red Sox use an expiring contract to essentially buy a well-regarded prospect? There was a chance of that happening over the winter, and it looks like it could happen for real before the end of the month. We’ll have to wait and see.